WHO: alarm at dangerous outbreaks of bird flu and cholera | News

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The World Health Organization (WHO) warned about the possibility of facing an avian flu pandemic after learning of cases of transfer of the virus to mammals and even humans.


FAO activates protocols against avian influenza in Latin America

Through a briefing, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus confirmed reports of mammals infected with the H5N1 bird flu virus, including mink, otters, foxes and sea lions.

The official warned that this scenario requires close monitoring of the situation, although he considers the risk to humans less likely. However, he revealed that "we cannot assume that it will continue to be so, and we must prepare for any case."

Although the H5N1 virus, first reported in 1996, has spread widely in recent years among wild birds and poultry, specialists have observed rare intermittent transfer to and between humans, suggesting another pandemic.

For the moment, the international organization advises not to touch or collect dead or sick wild animals before informing the competent authorities, since their job now is to closely monitor the situation and study cases in humans when they occur, said the highest representative of the WHO.

The executive stressed that the entity's global network of laboratories and the Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System are working to monitor the strains in circulation to advise countries with infestation on the risk to human health and the treatment or measures of control established.

The WHO is committed to strengthening surveillance in each country, especially in human-poultry interaction environments, while working together with pharmaceutical companies to ensure a global supply of vaccines and antivirals if necessary.

The head of the international health organization took advantage of his appearance to also warn about the extent of cholera outbreaks reported in 23 countries that share borders and risk with 20 others.

According to WHO reports, nearly 30 countries had outbreaks of the disease in 2022, in which more people died than in the previous five years in total. Currently, one billion people are at risk of contracting the virus, he noted.

By classifying contaminated water as the main route of transmission, the expert stressed the need for access to clean water as the main preventive measure and made special mention of Syria and Turkey, affected by the consequences of earthquakes.

In the Arab country, 85,000 cases of cholera have been reported since last August, which, together with the presence of measles, complicates the health situation of a nation that is going through 12 years of war, said Dr. Tedros.

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